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Language selection per 2.5 in techniques

From: Nir Dagan <nir@nirdagan.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 16:25:18 -0500
Message-Id: <200002292123.QAA26359@vega.brown.edu>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
In http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/WD-UAAG10-TECHS-20000128/
article 2.5 there are several unclear statements.

"Provide an interface which allows users to indicate their preferred language 
 separately for each kind of equivalent. The selection can be based on user 
 preferences in either the user agent (cf., the Content-Language entity-header 
 field of RFC 2616 [RFC2616], section 14.12) or the operating system."

This is a little confusing as the content-language HTTP header may
be included in a response of the server, but not in a request of the 

On the other hand, the user may set a value for the Accept-language 
request header. See the section "14.4 Accept-Language" in RFC2616.

Another statement is 
"In addition, international users may prefer to hear the program audio in its 
 original language while reading captions in their first language, fulfilling 
 the function of subtitles or to improve foreign language comprehension."

It is not clear what "international users" are. Non-Americans? User who 
understand more than one language?  I think "some users" is  more accurate.

Also it may be the case that both languages are foreign to the user, 
both native, or that the captions are foreign and the audio is native. 
Thus, this preference is not limited to the case of foreign audio and 
native captions.

Later in the text we have:
"The next image illustrates how users select preferred language in the 
 Windows operating system under properties for Regional Settings. This 
 preference could be inherited by the user agent."

It should be clarified that user agents should not 
send accept-language request header based on the language settings 
of the operating system because:
1. The operating system defines one language, while the accept-language 
   header may include many languages in different priorities. Automatic 
   setting of accept-language the operating system language may 
   result in the user receiving 406 messages from servers that do not 
   have a match to this single language although they have acceptable 
   other languages to the users. This coupled with IE's un-informative 
   "friendly" error messages may result in not accessing the document at all. 
2. This may be a privacy problem as indicated in RFC 2616 "15.1.4 Privacy Issues 
   Connected to Accept Headers" That is, users may like to hide the languages they 
   understand from servers although they tell it to the operating system.

Nir Dagan
Assistant Professor of Economics
Brown University 
Providence, RI

Received on Tuesday, 29 February 2000 16:23:14 UTC

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